Digging out; recent weather brings treacherous roadways
Ballard County - The latest bout of winter weather put a halt to pre-spring activities as the region was pelted with inches of sleet and then blanketed with snow. What may have looked like a winter wonderland, caused treacherous travel situations, closed businesses, and cancelled school for days.
As had been anticipated, several waves of freezing rain and sleet moved into the region bringing dropping temperatures on Sunday morning. Ice began accumulating on trees, cars and power lines, causing area residents to wait on edge for the possibility of widespread power outages.
Although the area didn’t see the major power outages it had expected, area travel became crippling.
While air temperatures on Sunday had dropped below freezing, the pavement temperatures benefited from sunshine and warmer temperatures prior to the weather event, but they were expected to drop throughout the day on Sunday.
As the day progressed, most highways and roads in the county were iced and covered with sleet. Crews were plowing and treating with ice-fighting chemicals and salt, but cold temperatures and a continuing winter mix of precipitation combined to created hazardous conditions.
Overnight on Sunday, the sleet turned over to snow, blanketing Ballard with 4-6 inches. Although snowplows could remove the snow, the left over ice still made travel dangerous. According to Keith Todd, District 1 Kentucky Transportation Cabinet, his crews left a thin layer of snow on top of the ice so as to be able to apply salt along with chemicals, and have it be effective.
Todd indicated that cold temperatures through about Wednesday would limit the ability of crews to have much impact on driving conditions. Todd also said District 1, which includes 12 counties, had about 5,500 tons of salt before this last round of winter weather. Crews typically use between 1,500 and 2,000 tons a day during a normal snow and ice accumulation in the 12 counties. This would leave low salt inventories with about a month to go in the snow and ice season, according to Todd.
Currently, crews are working to conserve salt, since Todd noted that another major weather event would use the remaining salt inventory. He is concerned about the nationwide increase in demand for salt in which there is not salt available for purchase.